Do you want to watch your savings grow but feel intimidated by the wide range of investment products? Whether you’re a teacher balancing a tight budget or a student saving for your first big trip, understanding your options is key to reaching your financial goals.

This blog tackles two popular savings vehicles: Money Market Accounts (MMAs) and Share Certificates (CDs). By understanding the differences between these accounts, you’ll be well-equipped to choose the right fit for your savings goals.

Why Building a Savings Foundation Matters?

In the US, according to a 2023 survey, the median savings account balance is $1,200. This means 50% of Americans have even less savings. The number is down from $4,500 in 2022, a sharp decrease in people’s financial security. Regardless of your age or income level, building a strong savings foundation is crucial for financial well-being. It acts as a safety net for unexpected expenses, like car repairs or medical bills.

But saving isn’t just about emergencies. It also helps you achieve your dreams, big or small. Maybe you’re saving for a summer vacation to explore the Rocky Mountains, a new laptop for school, or even a down payment on a house.

Here at The District Credit Union, we understand these goals. That’s why we offer a variety of investment account options to help you get there. Two popular options are Money Market Accounts (MMAs) and Share Certificates (CDs). Both can help you grow your savings, but they cater to different needs. Let’s delve into what makes each unique.

What is a Money Market Account (MMA)?

Money Market Accounts (MMAs) are a type of savings account that offer a balance between flexibility and earning potential. They function like a hybrid between a checking and savings account.

Here’s what makes MMAs unique:

  • Flexibility: MMAs provide easy access to your funds. MMAs allow for a limited number of withdrawals per month, perfect for short-term saving goals where you might need access to your money quickly. You can deposit as often as you wish.
  • Interest Rates: They typically offer lower interest rates compared to Share Certificates (CDs). This is because your money isn’t locked away for a set term. However, MMAs still generally offer higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts.
  • Minimum Balance Requirements: Some MMAs may have minimum balance requirements to qualify for certain benefits or avoid fees. Be sure to check with The District Credit Union about our current MMA requirements.
  • Interest Compounding: Interest on your MMA is compounded and paid out monthly. This means you earn interest on your interest, helping your savings grow faster over time.

What is a Share Certificate (CD)?

Share Certificates, also known as Certificates of Deposit (CDs), function differently from MMAs and cater to a different savings strategy.

Here’s what defines Share Certificates:

  • Term Deposits: With a Share Certificate, you commit your money for a fixed term, typically ranging from 3 months to 5 years. This means you agree to leave your money untouched for the chosen period.
  • Guaranteed Interest Rates: In exchange for your commitment, Share Certificates offer guaranteed interest rates that are typically higher than those of MMAs. The longer the term you choose, the higher the potential interest rate you can earn. This allows you to plan your future earnings with more certainty.
  • Early Withdrawal Penalties: It’s important to remember that Share Certificates have limited accessibility. There may be penalties for withdrawing your money before the CD matures. These penalties can vary depending on the term and the amount withdrawn.
  • Interest Compounding: Interest on your Share Certificate is typically compounded daily and credited monthly.

Choosing the Right Fit: Money Market Accounts vs. Share Certificates

Now that you understand the distinct features of Money Market Accounts (MMAs) and Share Certificates (CDs), let’s compare them side-by-side to help you choose the better fit for your savings goals.

FeatureMoney Market Account (MMA)Share Certificate (CD)
Access to FundsEasy; but limited withdrawals per monthLimited; funds locked away for a chosen term; early withdrawal penalties apply
Interest RatesLowerHigher
Minimum BalanceYesMinimum opening balance
Fixed TermNoYes, typically ranging from 3 months to 5 years
Ideal forShort-term savings goalsLong-term savings goals

The Right Choice for You:

Ultimately, the best choice between MMAs and CDs depends on your individual financial goals and risk tolerance.

Think about risk tolerance

Are you comfortable committing your money for a fixed term with a CD, even if it means limited access? Or do you prefer the flexibility of an MMA, even if it comes with lower interest rates?

Consider your goals

Are you saving for something you might need access to soon? Or are you saving for a long-term goal where you’re comfortable locking your money away?

For example, an MMA could be a great fit for building an emergency fund or saving for a summer getaway. The easy access would provide flexibility for unexpected expenses or travel costs. 

On the other hand, if you’re saving for a down payment on a car or a house in a few years, a CD could be a smart choice. By committing your savings for a set term, you can potentially earn a higher interest rate to reach your goal faster.

Conclusion

Money Market Accounts (MMAs) provide flexibility for easy access to your funds, while Share Certificates (CDs) offer the potential for higher returns if you can commit your savings for a set term. The best option will depend on your individual goals and comfort.

The District Credit Union: Your Savings Partner in Aurora

At The District Credit Union, we’re committed to empowering our members to make informed financial decisions. We offer a variety of resources to help you choose the right savings product, including financial services representatives who can answer your questions and online calculators to help you compare rates and terms.

Check out our investment account options today and take the first step towards achieving your financial goals!